In June, at the NSGP Online Community Day, I participated in the group titled “Exploring authenticity in times of crisis.” It reminded me of why I love the annual NSGP conferences. Despite the online platform, we were able to connect, be honest, and clarify differences between us. Within the first few minutes of the group, another member saw my name and connected with me over our shared Middle Eastern heritage, and that was a moving experience for me, since it’s a part of my identity which often feels invisible and misunderstood. Too often lately I have felt disconnected in this COVID-19 life I’ve been leading, home with my husband and two kids, and so this experience stood out as a precious interlude of belonging.
I’ve been coming to the NSGP Conference since 2007, my first year out of graduate school. My colleague, Beth Gingerich, encouraged me to attend a then-Institute, and when the cost of it proved too steep for my clinic salary, to apply for a scholarship. I remember feeling that strange clammy combination of excitement and terror at trying to show up and be authentic with a group of strangers. Even after all this time, these feelings still return to some degree each year that I attend an experience group. I branched out at some point, attending workshops and demonstration groups as well, and always felt grateful for what I learned.
Fast forward eleven years, and I finally joined NSGP. In the interim, I stopped working as an adult outpatient therapist at Somerville Mental Health (now a part of Riverside Community Care) to be home with my first child, and now two children.
For years, I attended the conference when I could. I loved the warmth, energy and “down-to-earthness” of NSGP’s members. Participating in the conference was my favorite way to earn CEUs, since I would invariably learn something about group dynamics and myself, and because it helped me reconnect to my professional identity during this period of being a stay-at-home parent. It’s in the last few years, as I’ve been taking steps to return to work, that joining NSGP and making connections with other clinicians whose approach to the work feels similar to my own, that I’ve more fully come to appreciate the possibility of NSGP as my professional “home.” I’ve attended several Breakfast Clubs and appreciated the people I’ve gotten to know there. This past year, I’ve had the privilege of observing Julie Anderson and Joel Krieg’s group at the Brookline Center.
Ultimately, NSGP has always offered the possibility of feeling more connection in my life. And of course, connection right now is more important than ever. In that spirit, take a look at “Member Spotlight” – a new recurring feature that will give all of us a chance to know more about the many unique members of our organization. This issue features Jennifer DeSouza, our new president. Read on to find out more about the important work of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, what the SAGE Committee has to offer, and one of the useful workshops our Practice Development Committee offered in the last year. Analyze This, written just as the pandemic was beginning, speaks powerfully to issues of racism and xenophobia that we continue to grapple with as a society and an organization. And finally, don’t miss Silver Linings, the theme of this issue, for reflections and updates from our community about what we are grateful for, amidst so much loss and pain.
I feel encouraged that we are working on growing as individuals and as an organization about systemic issues of racism and who holds power. I know I speak for everyone on the newsletter committee in saying that we will do our best to make NSGPeople a space where all voices are welcome and included, and where we prize the connections between us above all. Please let us know what you think!